You’ve probably heard that eating a whole food diet is the best “way of eating” out there. But, if you’re feeling unsure about what whole foods are, why they’re beneficial, and how to make smarter choices for you and your family, you came to the right place.
Read on for everything you need to know about whole foods.
What’s the difference between whole foods and processed foods?
Generally, the definition of whole foods includes food that is in it’s most basic and natural form. Some examples of whole foods are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, legumes, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, or salmon.
The concept of eating a “whole food” diet is pretty easy to understand since these are all examples of foods we recognize. Plus, it’s encouraged because eating whole foods makes it easier to know where your food is coming from. It’s the idea that you should recognize everything on the ingredients list in your meals.
This leads us to processed foods. Often, processed foods are packaged, filled with ingredients you don’t recognize, or have added sugars or fillers. It also describes food that may have nutrients taken away, like refined grains that are stripped of their bran and germ.
Let’s compare whole foods to their processed food alternative:
– Whole grain bread is better than refined white bread
– Fruits, veggies, and legumes are better than artificial supplements to give your body missing nutrients
– Grass-fed chicken breast is better than frozen chicken nuggets that often include additives
– Mashed potatoes are better than potato chips
– A bowl of fresh berries are better than fruit-flavored gummy snacks
When you see it on paper, it might become clear that we’re consuming a lot more processed foods than we realize, even if they’re labeled as “natural” or “healthy.” So, what are some practical tips for eating whole foods and how can we make healthier choices when it comes to our diet?
Benefits of Eating Whole Foods
There’s a reason why so many nutrition experts encourage people to focus on eating whole foods instead of their processed counterparts. Many scientists that have studied people who eat a whole food diet have found that they often have more energy, clearer minds, and overall healthier lifestyles.
The first major benefit of eating whole foods is that when you do, it becomes easier to get all the nutrients you need. Unless you have a nutrient deficiency due to a medical complication, when you eat a complete, whole food diet, these whole foods in their natural state can give us everything we need to feel our best.
Whole foods are often nutrient-dense meaning they have more nutrients than processed foods with a similar calorie count. So, instead of consuming empty calories, you’re getting fuel from your food by choosing whole foods.
Plus, when you eat less empty calories, you’re more likely to lose excess weight or maintain a healthy weight.
How to Eat More Whole Foods
So, you might be wondering how you can realistically eat more whole foods. The truth is, processed foods are more convenient (or at least perceived to be more convenient). This is why many people feel like it’s too hard or too expensive to adopt a healthier lifestyle with whole foods.
Let’s set the record straight and start by saying that eating more whole foods can be affordable and simpler than you think. Just a few swaps to the things you already do can make a big impact.
First, shop on the perimeter of the grocery store. In most grocery stores, the foods on the perimeter will be whole foods, while processed packaged goods are in the aisles. Starting on the perimeter makes you more likely to fill your basket with healthy options. Then, make sure you have a strict list of the things you need in the aisles to help you avoid impulse purchases.
Next, make your own sauces and dressing. For many of us, the actual food isn’t the problem, it’s all the extras. Premade spices, sauces, and dressing can be full of preservatives, fillers, and unnecessary calories. Instead, take a few extra minutes and make your own yummy sauces and toppings. They’ll usually taste even better too because you can make them how you like them.
Finally, read the ingredients list. When you’re more aware of the food your buying and what goes in them, the more you’re likely to make a smarter choice. Make sure you can recognize everything on the ingredients lists of your favorite foods.
So, there you have it! For more nutrition-related tips and ideas, book one of our personal trainers in Dubai today!